Casa Ana is a family care center in Azua, Dominican Republic. It was founded in March of 2009 by Maria Marchena, originally a native of Azua who currently resides in the United States. Her intention was to address the pervasive destitution and despair prevalent in the community, especially among the children.

There are 30 children registered in the program, which functions as a before or after-school homework help program during the academic year. During the summer month of July, Casa Ana provides a cultural enrichment program.

Casa Ana is in partnership with a local clinic founded by a humanitarian doctor- the insurance paid for each participating child also includes every member of the household, thereby making healthcare for the families more readily accessible. A total of approximately 100 individuals benefit from these services.

During the academic year, breakfast is provided for the children who attend the morning session. The children who attend the afternoon session receive a healthy snack. During the summer month, Casa Ana provides breakfast, a hot lunch and a healthy snack in the afternoon, in an effort to combat nutritional deficiencies.

Casa Ana partnered with a local humanitarian dentist in July 2012 to begin addressing the concern of oral health.

Issues in the Dominican Republic (per Plan International):

  • In the Dominican Republic the most serious issues for children’s survival are HIV and AIDS; teenage pregnancy; ignorance of early childhood development and good child-rearing practices; and weak public health services for mothers and children.
  • The quality of learning is extremely poor. Only 6 of 10 children reaches fifth grade, and merely 10% graduate from secondary school.
  • Children are not expected to express their opinions or contribute to family or community decisions. There is a cultural tolerance for violence, often gender related, and the legal system is weak in applying the law.

The city of Azua is the capital of the province of Azua. Home to 208,857 people, Azua is located 97 km (60m) southwest of the Dominican capital.

In 2007, with 101,458 children attending primary school in Azua, only 28,412 were registered in a secondary school. Children in Azua have very limited resources, if any at all. A lack of adequate after-school programs, extra-curricular activities and age-appropriate entertainment leave children to wander the streets unsupervised; child prostitution and drug-use is rampant.


Casa Ana is a safe haven where family values and individual empowerment help nurture responsible and productive citizens for a better society. The children are exposed to the benefits of educational progress and social responsibility. We strive to instill in them hope for a brighter future.


Children who are identified as disadvantaged orphans or children lacking family structure and support are provided with the necessary tools, including a well-rounded education, technical skills training, motivation and cultivation of a sense of pride in their community. Casa Ana works with the children and their families to build unity within the family setting utilizing a holistic approach.


  • Serve at-risk children, ages 6-16
  • Promote academic achievement
  • Cultivate imagination and creativity
  • Instill community building values
  • Address general health and nutrition concerns
  • Advocate for the overall safety of all children in the community